Immunity May Only Delay Impunity of Italian Prime Minister

Azerbaijan, Baku, 24 July / Trend corr. V.Javoronkova, E.Tariverdiyeva / Granting of immunity to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will not be a guarantee that he will not escape from the legal prosecution. 

"Immunity cannot be considered a sufficient guarantee for officials' calm future, as the court hearing will be restored against Berlusconi after expire of his mandate," Federiga Bindi, American expert on Italy considers.

The law approved by Parliament and signed by the President, according which the repeatedly sued in court Berlusconi, as well as President of the Republic and the presidents of the two chambers of Parliament granted with immunity. The Bill was approved this week.

Italian Prime Minister has been accused over ten of criminal cases lately. The last, in the end of December, was the Naples Prosecutor Office brought an action against Berlusconi accusing him of corruption.  According to Italian newspapers, this accusation against the Prime Minister came to light accidentally while investing the conditions to create 'black funds' abroad.

"Although they have immunity, sooner or later, they will stand trial. So, law must not create conditions for  any additional stimulus to four officials to act illegally," Vincent Della Sala, Political Sciences Professor in the Italian based Trento University, told Trend via e-mail. 

Granting of immunity to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and three other high ranking officials will not be the reason of their illegal actions," Federiga Bindi, Director of the Italia program Brookings institution, told Trend via e-mail.

Corruption and immunity are not linked to each other. If Berlusconi was charged of corruption in past, this does not mean that he was blamed, Bindi considers.

Sala believes that the high ranking officials are not subject to prosecution while in office but could face charges once they leave their position. The recent law should not provide any greater challenge to democracy.

"It is not necessarily a step backward for Italian democracy but it does highlight concerns about who and what is to provide a check and balance on political power," Della Sala said. Office-holders would still have to face charges and therefore the judiciary could continue to play its role as a check on the power of the executive and the legislature.

Immunity, according to Bidi, in Italy is not a new, therefore we cannot say that it was made specially for Berlusconi.   

"Immunity existed in Italy till 1990s, and later was cancelled as it was easy to be acquired after being a Parliament member," Bindi said.

"The current government has talked about re-introducing immunity for all members of Parliament, as was the case before the corruption crisis of the 1990s. But there have yet to be concrete steps to re-introduce the system whereby prosecutors would require the approval of Parliament to press charges against one of its members,' Della Sala stated. .

The immunity legislation, proposed by the Cabinet, was approved by Parliament. However, heated discussions preceded voting. Skeptics, say that the document was developed especially for Berlusconi could escape punishment for many accusations in corruption. Berlusconi rejects such suppositions.

"Corruption may consist within or out of Parliament and the Government, irrespective of immunity," Bindi said.

The correspondent can be contacted at:[email protected]

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